After the pollution board identified that chemical effluents from common effluent treatment plant (CETP) at Taloja were polluting the Kasadi river, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) after being directed by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) cut 40% of the water supply to industrial plants at Taloja from February 1.
HT had reported last year that unrelated industrial waste pumped out by an effluent treatment plant in Taloja industrial area, near Mumbai, had raised pollution levels in the Kasadi river to 13 times the safe limit.
According to data obtained by NGO Watchdog Foundation through right to information (RTI), there are 977 industries currently functioning at Taloja industrial area, spread across 2,157 acre area, that comprises of chemical, pharmaceutical, engineering and food processing industries. Of these, 347 small and medium-scale industries mostly comprising chemical, pharmaceutical and food processing ones are polluting industries with one CETP treating effluents. The industries employ about 76,000 people and have an annual turnover of Rs 60,000 crore.
Additionally, fishermen had earlier said that there has been a 90% drop in the fishes they catch from Kasadi river and authorities had not taken any steps despite their several complaints. Taking cognisance of the complaints, MPCB issued a notice to MIDC highlighting the pollution problem on Monday. “Until the Taloja industrial area does not start online pollution monitoring, which was one of the mandates the pollution board had asked them for to tackle water pollution, adequate water supply will not be provided to them,” said Anil Mohekar, regional officer, MPCB. “The plants have two months to comply or else further action will be taken.”
According to the letter issued to the industrial plants, earlier they were receiving 24-hour water supply but after MPCB’s directive, the plants will not receive water from 12am to 8am, effective from February 1.
Officials from the Taloja CETP said the move will definitely affect industrial production. “The plants have already begun the process of installing equipments for online effluent monitoring. The curtailment of water has automatically reduced their production by half,” said a senior officer from the Taloja CETP. “Earlier all plants together we’re getting 50 million litre per day (MLD), which has been reduced to 30 now.”
City-based NGO Watchdog Foundation that had filed several complaints with MPCB over the last two years lauded the move. “It is a welcome step by the pollution board as they have finally taken cognisance of the issue of impact of pollutants on the river body and loss of fish biodiversity. The industries need to understand the importance of preserving the river rather than turning it into a nullah,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation.
Pollution at Kasadi River 13 times safe limit
To highlight their plight, fishermen from the local Koli community collected water samples in August last year from the Taloja CETP pipeline areas discharging treated waste and samples from the banks of the Kasadi river, and submitted them for a water quality test at Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s (NMMC) environmental laboratory.
The lab found levels of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) – the concentration of oxygen required for aquatic life – to be 80 milligram per litre (mg/L). The test also found high levels of chloride, which is toxic to aquatic life and impacts vegetation and wildlife. According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines, a BOD level above 6 mg/L cannot sustain fish species and levels above 3 mg/L make the water unfit for human consumption.